End of the Whitey Walker Gang

Members of the Whitey Walker Gang were contemporaries of Bonnie and Clyde who were killed on May 23, 1934. But as the Barrow Gang was being shot to pieces and receiving much publicity, the Walker Gang was doing what it planned to do and drove in the night to its next destination.

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

By 1934 members of the Walker Gang were all together in the Walls Unit at Huntsville where seven men would attempt to escape. The cast for the Texas Death Row House Escape included Whitey Walker and Blackie Thompson; Joe Palmer and Raymond Hamilton, members of the Barrow Gang who had escaped from the Eastham Prison Farm near Weldon, Texas, on January 16, 1934; Charles Frazier (real name Eldridge Roy Johnson), who was known for his many successful escapes; Roy Alvin Johnson, youngest member of the Walker Gang and Hub Stanley.

Walker planned the escape; Frazier arranged for guns to be smuggled in to the escapees, and an ex-convict had keys made in the machine shop for the cell doors. On July 22, 1934, at 4:20 p.m., nearly all of the Wall’s prison population was attending a baseball game in a stadium next to the prison. A guard bringin9 the evening meal to those in prison was overpowered by Frazier and two trustees were made to unlock Thompson’s cell. The other escapees could then unlock their cell doors with the keys made by the ex-convict. Frazier, Hamilton, Palmer and Thompson ran from the Death House and were joined by Walker, Johnson and Stanley.

They moved to the picket at the entrance of the lower yard gate and broke the lock. Then they ran to the machine shop, grabbed bolt cutters and ran to the fire house to break a chain that secured an extension ladder. Hamilton, the first to climb up the ladder, was followed by Palmer and then Thompson. As Hamilton, Palmer and Thompson were going down the steps outside the wall, shots were heard from guards who had arrived on the scene. Johnson received a flesh wound and surrendered. Stanley took cover behind some cordwood. Walker, who was hampered by recovering from a broken arm, was killed with one bullet as he was attempting to climb the ladder inside the wall.

Frazier was shot four times and taken on a stretcher to the hospital. The three men who successfully made it over the wall – Hamilton, Palmer and Thompson — ran and jumped on the running boards of waiting cars that left at high speed to take them to freedom — which did not last very long. Palmer was recaptured on August 8, and Hamilton was recaptured on the following April 5. They were returned to the Death House without any hope of repeal and electrocuted on May 10, 1935 (death date on Palmer’s gravestone).

A few months after the escape, Amarillo police got word that Thompson was using a house in town as his base of operation, and there were rumors that he was intending to rob a bank in Amarillo. On the evening of December 6, 1934, Thompson was spotted in a black Ford V-8. A posse of city and county officers pursued him in a high speed chase from a point on East 10th Avenue to a field along old Highway 66 about 15 miles east of Amarillo.

When the posse got close enough, one of the deputies shot a rear tire, causing Thompson’s car to careen of f the highway. Thompson was well armed when he left the car, but he was blinded by the lights of the sheriff’s car and soon slumped to the ground, his body riddled with seventeen bullets. Pat McConal did not know that his research for a graduate paper would evolve : into a “first-rate volume with fresh insights and new information” about the out- laws roaming the country during the Great Depression. Although he realized that the story might arouse painful memories for some, he had told it and he was glad to put it to bed.

Over 200 Articles, written by Eloise Lane, were published in the Pampa News. These articles may be accessed by clicking on each section below. A list of articles will be revealed that are linked to a page containing the text of the article.

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